Change and Ethics (or is it Changing Ethics?)

Change is accelerating. New technologies are changing the world and the way we interact with each other; but ethical principles remain the same. Why do we have so much trouble applying these principles?

I attended a MIMA presentation last week that discussed legal and ethical aspects of social networking. It was an interesting exploration of the questions the new platforms create. There are some new situations deserving more attention. The deleting and editing of blog comments and the use of sophisticated data mining to determine preferences are two examples. Most ethical situations in social networking are merely extensions of traditional circumstances. Honesty and transparency are key elements of any approach.

Timeless Ethics

These qualities have been around for centuries, yet speed and volume are changing the game. Information flashes through the system without friction. Good news travels fast. Bad news travels even faster. Everything is visible to a world that is increasingly connected. Speed is a critical new element that changes the game.

Volume of information also makes a huge difference in the way ethics affect our circumstances. The number of players providing content continues to explode. Around 10 million unique visitors watch the three major television networks each month. In the same time frame, the three major social networking platforms welcome over 250 million unique visitors. The volume these visitors create is staggering and leverages everything – good and bad!

In this environment, small deviations can lead to big issues. The volume and speed of information creates much more visibility for everything that happens. That visibility also creates more liability:  more exposure on items that used to be “invisible.”

All of these changes make solid ethics more and more critical. Establishing a firm ethical base allows you to be proactive in difficult situations. That base makes it easier to steer clear of unnecessary trouble and puts you in position to consistently take advantage of opportunities.

Do you have the ethical base to take advantage of these times?


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